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Bankok 2000 |
Th. -Fr. |
Friday 8th June.
Woke early and hired mountain bikes (When I say early I mean early-ish) and set off for a jaunt around the island. After about an hour on the road to Nathon from Big Buddha we stopped and had brekkies (schnitzel) at a German place, truly in the middle of nowhere - okay, between Maenam and Nathon. Daf's bike was a little small for his six-foot something frame, so he came as far as Nathon, where we stopped, had lunch, checked e-mail, etc...
I set off to conquer the island alone and he turned back for Big Buddha. As he later said, he should have carried on as Nathon is about the same distance from Big Buddha as it would be to tour the rest of the island on the main road. I made remarkably good time on my own and got as far as Lamai in the South East about 2:00, where I stopped for a swim and a snack. While in the water, I scraped my side on a yacht's anchor. I scored a dab of iodine and a plaster from the kind lady at the restaurant and chatted to about three tables while at the restaurant. There was one group of Thais, an Irish couple and a swiss Thai lady with her German hubby.
The Irish guy, Frank, checks internet systems and has dabbled with his own website, so we had a bit to chat about as well as our time in Thailand. Here are his photos from Thailand.
Rested and watered I set off again and made my way North past Chewang by about 3-ish (I'd arranged to meet Dafi in Chewang about 9, so by all accounts I was making good time.) Got back to Big Buddha around 3:30 but to late to arrange a ferry out for that night so I booked back into the Phayom Park. This time the only room available was with, you guessed it, a double bed. Luckily Frank, the manager, lent us a spare mattress from the massage room.
On his way back from Nathon, Daf had taken a detour via a dirt track in a picturesque part of the island (hey, where do we start - there are so many!) However on returning back to the Big Buddha Daf had discovered his Swiss Army knife was missing. That wouldn't have been so bad but it was a going away present from his workmates in Oz. Not knowing how far away it really was I volunteered to go along with him to try and find it. We got as far as the German-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-schnitzel-bar before Dafi conceded he'd missed the turn-off. We turned back and from this viewpoint he'd recognised it more easily. Good-oh! up the dirt track for five minutes and wahey the knife! Not a total waste of an hour and several km's of cycling (at least 10.) That explains why we couldn't be bothered to cycle all the way back. After a few unsuccessful attempts to flag down taxis for us + two bikes, we managed to hail a motorcycle and side-car. That's a sight you should see but unfortunately neither of us had our cameras. The faces of the people on the street was well worth the 80 Baht we paid him.
Back at Big Buddha, we showered and made ready to get to Chewang to have dinner with Gil & Meital at an Israeli restaurant, celebrating the Jewish Shalom Shabbat. We hired a motorcycle and I designated myself as designated driver. Got to the restaurant after recognising 'O'7XIX'(nearest I could get with western fonts) as 'Oasis'. We were a little late but better late than never.
Daf and I, being the only non-Jewish there, were given little paper caps which kept being blown off by the fans. The food was greeat - salads, pasta, something spicey with eggs. We stayed for a while, met other travellers, mainly from Israel but also guests such as Mark, from Los Angeles.
After leaving we made our way to the bars (more culture!) We took in the show again at Christy's Cabaret, which I found out later was featured in a Channel four documentary. According to what I've heard the British owner married a Thai transexual without knowing the true nature of her gender. Funnily enough, when he did find out he was quite upset. After a while he came around to the idea and Christy's cabaret review was born.
We had a drink at the bar and then moved to a table as we kept getting felt up. Eeeew! We got a better view of the acts from our table near the front. We stayed for an hour and then paroused a couple more bars - myself just on cola, before making our way back to Big Buddha. Got back pretty late, about 12:30 but early depending on your point of view.
Hung out at the Phayom Park until very late (about 4) with other British holiday makers / travellers. It came to a point where I thought it was too late to go to bed seeing as I was due to get the 6 o'clock taxi to Nathon and start making my way back to BKK.
While waiting for 6 to come around I took a dip in the sea. Should have know better though - seeing as last time Daf went 'dipping' I hid his shorts under the deckchair of one of the German girls. No German girls this time though, just Daf and his camera. After about 10 minutes swimming back and forth out there it seemed that Dafir wasn't about to get bored too easily. I swam as far out as I thought neccesary for Daf not to be able to see me. Well it was pitch black out in the sea but there were enuogh lights on along the beach for me to see Dafir's every movement. Once far enough out I swam a good while out to my right and Dafir's left an doubled behind a large yacht, being careful not to get too close to the anchors again. From behind the yacht I swam closer to the pier and tried not to splash too much while moving towards the shore. I crawled up the beach 'commando style' and doing my best not to be 'observed' made my way through a neighbouring garden to the main street where I dashed 'starkers' round to our bungalow complex and found our door unlocked. Lucky. If only I had my camera to take a photo of Dafir's face as I returned to the beach in my other shorts. "Nobody likes a smartarse!", was his comment!
It was really late by this time and we were really hungry. After trying to open a few coconuts only to find them 'rancid' we found a couple of bananas at the bar.
Saturday 9th June.
Dafir hit the hay and I finished packing up. I took a shower and went to wait for the Big Buddha taxi. I was on the road about 5:20 and the only place open was an elderly mama's kitchen with a gravel sand floor and frogs hopping around the boxes stashed under work surfaces. She rustled up some pork, rice and gravy while I sat, watching the frogs climb about her kitchen, under the fridge, etc.. It amused her that I was so spellbound, wathcing the wildlife in her workspace.
The taxi came at about 5:50 and I paid the B50 to Nathon. I was quite surprised to find that I wasn't the only passenger to get up so early in the morning.
Once at Nathon I found that I had over an hour to wait to board the ferry so, I came, I bought, I ate and I sat. At 8:00 I boarded the ferry, found a long couch seat, and did my best to sleep.
Got in to Donsak at 11 and took a bus from Donaak to Surathani. On the way over I'd fancied that Dansok was an anagram of 'Don' ask!' as in 'where the hell is this place?'
I had my suspisions confirmed when the bus stopped, somewhere, and I got off with everybody else. I asked for the train station.
'Ah, good! how much?'
'Er, no. To train station, thao lai?' (How much?)
This could have gone on all day until it was brought to my attention that this stop was only for those going to Koh Phi-phi and that my bus had pull out, gone, and was ne'er to be seen again. Doh!!
I had a few hours until the buses or the trains were due to leave so I decided to hoof it in the general direction of Surathani. I was told it was 8km but a sign I found just around the corner said only 6km. Anyway, I walded less that a click before being picked up and driven to Surathani town.
The driver dropped me off just before the bus station at which time I was immediately pounced upon by a ticket (you want tick-eeet?) tout. The ticket to koh samui total was incredibly cheap (I forget how much now) but the bus back was nearly twice so I decided to keep looking. The tout followed me and took me to another place. I heard 250, which I thought was okay, and then when it came to paying, the price jumped to 350. Hmm!
Ticket bought I set out to discover what was to discover around this part of Surathani. I guess I must have been in the wrong part of town if there is indeed anything of significance to discover here. I did find an internet cafe which was only 25B p/hr. Pretty good, as even in Bangkok it was 1baht per minute. I stayed on for a couple of hours, tweaked the site as much as was possible and chatted to a French expat girl who came to use the computer to my left. About 4ish I moved on to find something to eat.
Found a large 'open plan', beer garden tabled inside restaurant that expected a lot of customers - but I guess I was early. I guess also that they don't get many 'farang'(Westerners) in that place.
I'd finished eating and it was still an hour or so before I was due to catch the bus so I just wandered (lonely as a cloud that floats on high...)
Evne when it came to 7 it seemed that the guy who was organising my transportation to the main bus was a little laxidaisical and not too concerned that I get there on time. As a result there were no seats upstairs so I was seated downstairs in the hospitality lounge, which I didn't mind too much as I was quite happy to be able to stretch out and sleep. As well as myself there was an older Thai man sleeping on the 'L' shaped chaise longue. During the journey he hungrily watched as I ate a sandwich I'd bought just before the bus set off, so I offered him the other half and he was more than eager to devour it (even though he'd brought his own packed lunch which he devoured just as hungrily later.)
The trip was now underway and with a little prompting for the downstairs TV to be switched on I started watching the Steven Segal movie (The one where he's reconciling the relationship of his dead brother's daughter while on a train hijacked for two rocket scientists etc...)
Now the following is my least liked but most recounted story, especially reconstructed for the Thai tourist police. I wonder if they ever did anything about it.
A little into the trip, someone came down to let the driver know in a very European accent that 'zer is a girl upstairs who has 'womited!'' Hey don't get me wrong but maybe the guy is a bus driver because his ability to translate European destruction of English language is close to... nil!? Maybe that's why there was no response from the driver.
A short while later, some tall skinny guy, Israeli, I think, came down with his 'small' blanket (too small for his 6" frame (hey, go figure that! What? In the land of the little people? No 6" blankie? Awwww!) I didn't even have a blankie and due to my forced segregation from my fellow travellers weren't even aware of the existance of blankets on this trip.
A little while on and we stopped for a toll booth or something and the video stopped half way through. I guess we thought, no problems - hopefully it'll start soon, and off we went. However when the flim failed to reappear I asked the driver if we could have it on again. His shrill reply rang back, "NO!" I started to ask why not (pointing that the meaning VIP as in VIP bus implies a certain degree of services) when another guy from upstairs came down and asked too.
With that the driver pulled over, jumped out the driver's door, came around the side door and flung it open. He stormed in and glared at me while shaking his finger in my face, screaling,"YOU SHUT MOUTH! YOU SHUT MOUTH!" I had already shut mouth but as he had 3 friends in the front I decided mouth should stay shut. I glowered defiantly and as he left, his parting shot was to try to flick my nose with his finger. I moved my head back and he missed but as the last thing I wanted was to find myself stranded in the middle of a Thai motorway in the middle of the night I kept quiet.
Continuing the journey with a shocked silence upstairs, I sat fuming, contemplating revenge. I had a couple of mini bananas in my rucksack which would fit nicely into a bus' exhaust (tailpipe for you yankees!)
About an hour later we had a pit-stop whcih made me very happy. I got my journal and wrote down all the information that the outside of the bus had to offer.
Richly Travel Agence Bus
Tourist Licence No.
02 613 7577-8
02 629 1300-1
01 665 7389
I was hoping it'd come in useful when I came to shop this idiot before somebody got hurt (if it's not too late already.) However, I'm not sure that anything much has been done.
Th. -Fr. |
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